3 Warning Signs Your Relationship Is Dying
And 3 ways to revive your relationship.
Posted February 14, 2023 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk
- Romance and closeness ebb and flow in every relationship.
- Signs that your relationship is in decline include emotional distancing, avoiding conflict, and fading intimacy.
- Steps to reviving your relationship include talking about concerns without anger or blame and not rushing to conclusions.
You can tell something is up. You don’t know what it is, but something feels "off" in your relationship. You're starting to panic.
Why is he taking longer to respond to texts?
Why does she seem distracted on dates?
Why is he whispering on late-night cell phone calls?
Intimacy ebbs and flows in every relationship; phases of coolness can follow times of closeness and affection. But when your relationship is in a death spiral, there are some clear warning signs that the end is near.
Your Past Relationships
Depending on your history, signs that your relationship is cooling can feel like simple annoyances or epic telltales of disaster.
For instance, you’re more like to overreact and feel triggered if
- You have a history of broken trust.
- You have been cheated on or betrayed.
- You’ve experienced "emotional incest."
Remember, hurt breeds fear. If someone close to you has hurt you, you may have wounds that have not yet healed. Talking over your feelings with friends or your therapist will help to ground and give you clarity before you address your partner.
Relationship Warning Signs
If you’ve talked to your friends or therapist, and you still have that sinking feeling, look out for these danger signals:
- Emotional distance: Your partner wants a break from you. They talk less or seem disassociated and detached. A feeling of joy, spontaneity, and fun is missing from your relationship or is in sharp decline.
- Avoidance: If your partner brushes off your concerns or responds with a shrug, something is up. Your intuition is likely to be right—but they’re unwilling to discuss it. The longer this goes on, the more likely a breakup is imminent.
- Taking space: Your partner announces that they need space without explanation. This is particularly troubling because you don’t understand their decision. You feel blindsided—and with good reason.
Reversing Relationship Decline
Relationships can be hard work, but hard work is a natural part of being in love. Love has a fortifying quality; as you weather storms together, you both become stronger.
Remember, everyone has baggage. Intimacy can trigger fears that your partner isn’t even conscious of. Rather than blow up your relationship with anger or accusations, walk through that minefield of intimacy more thoughtfully by taking the following steps:
- Talk it out: Don’t grudge dump. Find a way to dialogue without blame. Listen more than you talk. Express concerns and give space for responses. Don’t expect one conversation to fix everything. Take your time. Authentic intimacy takes time; it can’t be rushed.
- Be honest: Stop avoiding conflict. Lead with love as you express your fears and concerns. Often in relationships, one person is better at self-expression, and the other is less skilled. A partner’s silence doesn’t always mean something negative is in the works. They may need help finding the words for what they feel.
- Take your time: Don't rush. There is no express lane to solid relationships. Pushing for answers or making demands always backfires. It’s easy to get lost in the mix of love and fear. To succeed in any romantic relationship, you must maintain self-care and build a strong sense of self. Only then can you establish honest, lasting intimacy.
Need more relationship help? See "How 'Wanting to Be Liked' Gets You Rejected."